Sivu on muuttanut uuteen osoitteeseen


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Big Red Rock

In the morning we drove to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. We first spotted the big red rock from 50 km away.

There, in the middle of flat wilderness, the Australian icon, a huge red rock pokes out of the land 350 metres high. We bought a 3 day pass to the park.

We started from the Cultural Centre where we learned about aboriginal culture, beliefs and their way of life. The Anangu traditional owners have been in the area for tens of thousands of years and they are one of the oldest human societies on earth.

Uluru has a deep spiritual and cultural meaning for the Anangu people. The foundation of Anangu culture is Tjukurpa, somewhere referred to as Dreaming or Dreamtime. Tjukurpa is their law and it defines the rules of behavior and relationships between people and people and the land. Tjukurpa explains how these relationships came to be, what they mean and how they must me maintained. Tjukurpa refers to the time of creation as well as present time.

Aboriginal art on the Rock

A great deal of the Anangu Tjukurpa is related to Uluru and Kata Tjuta. There are many sacred sites and mythologies surrounding both rock formations.

When we went there, you were able to climb the rock if the weather conditions allowed it. Soon the climb will be prohibited. Dozens of people have died climbing Uluru, and the Anangu people have requested people not to climb as it is a very sacred place for them.

I didn't want to disrespect the traditional owners' culture so I stayed down. I thought it is a bit like going to a church and sitting on the altar. The aboriginal people don't build temples, their church is in nature itself. But here is a couple of photos Rohan took from high up.


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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mt Conner

It was a long drive to the big red rock. It must have been boring for Rohan, who had to do all the driving since I don't have a licence. I really enjoyed sitting in the van, listening to music and watching the sun set and the trees turn into silhouettes. 

When it got dark, we pulled over to a rest area for the night, an hour's drive from Uluru (Ayers Rock). In the morning we woke up to a nice view right from the van window! No, not Uluru just yet, it was Mt Conner. 

Rohan woke up during sunrise and took these pics. As those of you who know me know very well,  I don't care if the Ayers Rock just exploded, I'm not getting up at 5 AM to see absolutely ANYTHING.

Mt Conner is a gigantic flat-topped monolith, actually three times larger than Uluru. Access to Mt Conner is currently restricted.

Red sand, dry spinifex country, not many trees around!

Coming up: The world's most renowned red sand formation!

PS. Merry Christmas everyone!

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Before we started heading towards the big red rock, we had to stock up in Alice and while we were there, we wanted to try the didgeridoo. There was an amazing didgeridoo player giving free lessons at a didgeridoo shop. I have to tell you guys, it is much harder than it looks like... But great fun! For me the most difficult part was trying not to laugh when I played it. 

The view of Alice Springs from the lookout on Anzac Hill

Flag of the Northern Territory

A disturbing sign in a public toilet:

At first glance, these headlines in a local newspaper were even more disturbing:

After reading a bit more, you notice that this time kids in fact refer to baby goats. Still, freaked me out.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The West MacDonnell Ranges part II

The third day we started heading back to Alice, stopping at some beautiful and interesting spots along the way. 

Ellery Creek Big Hole is a big waterhole surrounded with red cliffs and gum trees. 

Ochre Pits is a colourful outcrop of ochre on the banks of a dry river. Aboriginals use ochre for several purposes from painting to medicine. 

We climbed up the Serpentine Gorge and had some stunning panoramic views. Everything around us was so peaceful, with the sunshine flowing into the trees... I think we were without a care in the world.

It is amazing how climbing a hill can give you such perspective to everything. Everybody should do that every now and then.

Standley Chasm is a deep red cleft with 80 metres high slopes, formed by floods over millions of years. The walls glow from sunlight. We did a short walk that ended in a sign that said "DO NOT PASS THIS POINT. If you do, you risk serious injury or DEATH.". To Rohan, this kind of sign is apparently an invitation. So up we climbed. And got back alive. 

Simpsons Gap is one of the most prominent gaps in the area. We also saw some black-footed rock wallabies jumping on the cliffs along the walking track. 

The West MacDonnell Ranges are a beautiful, peaceful spot to make long walks and totally empty your mind. 

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better... -Albert Einstein

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The West MacDonnell Ranges part I

The MacDonnell Ranges are a series of mountain ranges that stretch out for hundreds of kilometres on both sides of Alice Springs. As time was limited, this time we were only going to do the West MacDonnell Ranges. 

The traditional owners of Alice Springs area believe that the ranges were originally giant caterpillars that entered this world through one of the huge gaps in the area. And from far away the mountains do indeed resemble a giant caterpillar. 

The weather had changed since we got to the centre of Australia. In the daytime it was nice and around +25 degrees, but at night the temperature dropped and it got really cold. 

The first night we stayed at a place called Ormiston Gorge. We did a couple of walks around the Gorge. One of them ended at a deep waterhole that we had to swim through, wearing our shoes, and the water was icy cold!

It is easy to imagine why the mountains and the area have such a significant meaning for the aboriginal people. Gorgeous landscapes, beautiful nature and a vast silence around you. Just us and the mountains...

Wild watermelon!

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The Red Centre

After 10 days of driving from Cairns we finally reached the Red Centre of Australia. Alice Springs, with only 27,000 people is the unofficial capital of Central Australia and is situated in the geographic centre of Australia. 

Alice Springs is a nice little town, a mix of old-style buildings and modern shopping centres. It is also the aboriginal art capital of Australia, and the streets are full of art shops one after another. For the flocks of tourists there are also tour operators and travel agencies in every corner. 

Approaching Alice we ran into these signs. Alice Springs is a dry zone, and that means you will get a heavy fine for drinking in public or carrying too much alcohol with you. You see, the indigenous Australians in the area (25% of the population in Alice Springs) like the booze a bit too much. So the town is trying to reduce alcohol-related problems with these new laws. For instance, bottle shops don't open until 2 pm and you can only buy cask wine after 6 pm, and only 2 litres per person. But when we visited the local Bottle-O, to us it seemed like the liquor was still flowing among the aboriginals despite the laws. 

But we only did a quick stop in Alice this time and moved on to the West MacDonnell Ranges for a couple of nights. 

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Towards the Centre of Australia

Before arriving in Alice Springs we stopped at a couple of interesting little townships. Wycliffe Well is supposed to be the Roswell of Australia, a UFO village. It is said that UFO sightings are so common there that you are considered unlucky if you stay there and don't see anything. Well, we only did a quick stop and didn't see any aliens. It was basically just a petrol station and not much to see. 

We camped about a 100 km north from Alice Springs that night.

In another small village of Aileron we stopped for photos of these big aboriginal statues.

There was a big friendly kangaroo who gave me kisses.

Soooo CUTE!

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Devil's Marbles

We stopped for Internet, supermarket and laundry in one of Northern Territory's biggest towns, Tennant Creek, with the population of 3,000. I guess there are not many big towns in the Northern Territory. Most of the population is aboriginals.

An hour's drive from Tennant Creek are the Devils Marbles. It is a pile of huge, several metres high, red, round granite boulders that have formed about 1700 million years ago. The site is known as Karlu Karlu for the traditional aboriginal owners. 

It is a very sacred site for the aboriginals. Aboriginal people believe that people from the Dreaming (stories that tell of the journey of Ancestral Beings that created the world) hide in the caves under the rocks. 

"They are real people like us. You can see them. A long time ago I went with my billycan down to the creek here to get some water. One of these secret people came out and started playing with me. I couldn't go away. My mother came and got me, saved me. After that we never camped at this place again, never. They are kind these secret people, but they can make you mad. They can change you into one of them. They can say 'follow me' and you can't go back. It happened like that for my cousin. He disappeared. The old people made a big ceremony, singing the ground and the rocks to make them let my cousin come back. We have lost that song now. We have no song to bring children back." A senior traditional owner

We were lucky, and secret people didn't make us mad. .... Or did they? 

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Welcome to the Northern Territory

A long boring drive.

We stayed a rest area at "The Pebbles", which is a sacred place for the aboriginals. It used to be aboriginal women's dancing place. Basically, it was a pile of rocks. We made a campfire under the stars.

The Pebbles.

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